The objective of this paper is to discover opportunities and challenges from entrepre-neurship perspective in case of small firms in rural areas of Småland region in Sweden.
Indeed, the entrepreneurial perspective on rural business in Sweden contains research gaps, which are worth filling. Knowledge of what entrepreneurs actually encounter in rural areas is helpful for both research and practical implementation in various ways.
What is more, according to the Government Offices of Sweden (2008), Sweden appears to be an excellent location for studying rural entrepreneurship due to its vast and busi-ness-facilitative rural areas. Besides, this study will focus on Småland region, more pre-cisely Jönköping county, which is known to be one of the most entrepreneurial in Swe-den (OECD, 2012). The fact that the authors are currently residing in this region pro-vides access to local rural entrepreneurs, which is essential to producing a worthy re-search. Since most firms in rural Sweden are small, as Curran and Storey (1993) state in their work, it is more advantageous to focus on them. Furthermore, the small firm struc-ture in Småland region is strong.
- What are the main challenges and opportunities that small firm entrepreneurs encounter in Småland’s rural areas?
- How do these rural areas affect different small firms?
- How beneficial is rural location for entrepreneurship (if it is)?
This work contributes to multiple spheres of research and practical use. First of all, it makes an input to existing rural research by introducing a view on rural opportunities and challenges from the perspective of entrepreneurs, in contrast to the common eco-nomics and policy perspective. Secondly, this research would be of value for entrepre-neurs who are considering doing business in rural areas, because it will let them know in advance what difficulties to expect, as well as where to look for opportunities and how to possibly exploit them. Thirdly, the paper will shed light on what rural businesses are actually concerned about, therefore assisting policy-makers with how to boost busi-ness activity in country locations.
Lastly, even though the paper investigates empirical findings from specific Swedish ru-ral areas, it generally contributes to the international rural entrepreneurship study, which is increasingly often claimed to be central to understanding of how to revive potentially lucrative but currently abandoned country locations.
This study investigates rural areas of the Småland region, and specifically Jönköping county. It is known that even within one country rural locations differ in many respects. Consequently, research findings cannot be generalized to broader rural locations in Sweden or abroad.
The field of entrepreneurship has been thoroughly studied for decades. Since it was de-termined that entrepreneurship is a major factor of economic growth, it has been attract-ing researchers who have produced an ample amount of literature.
Generally, entrepreneurship is a term describing individuals that recognize the opportu-nities in order to satisfy needs and who gather resources to meet them (Jones, 1999). Entrepreneurs are regarded as innovative individuals who are responsible for the change and growth.
The paper relies on the definition of entrepreneurship proposed by Wennekers and Thu-rik (1999, p. 46): ”Entrepreneurship is the manifest ability and willingness of individu-als, on their own, in teams, within and outside existing organizations, to: (1) perceive and create new economic opportunities (new products, new production methods, new organizational schemes and new product-market combinations) and to (2) introduce their ideas in the market, in the face of uncertainty and other obstacles, by making deci-sions on location, form and the use of resources and institutions”.
This definition is comprehensive enough to outline such a multidimensional concept, since it demonstrates that entrepreneurship involves particular creative human behav-iour in context of specific external factors.
Indeed, despite definition discrepancies researchers agree that entrepreneurship is per-formed by individuals and that it is a dynamic phenomenon (Hebert & Link, 1989).
Wennekers and Thurik (1999) discuss that an entrepreneur in a company is one (or sometimes a few) person whose influence shapes the entire business. Due to the fact that such centralized management is usually a feature of small firms, the tight link be-tween entrepreneurs and small business is established.
In their study of entrepreneurs, Blanchflower and Oswald (1998) identify that entrepre-neurs in general face financial and liquidity constraints. However, they are more satis-fied with their job than employees and have much higher autonomy (Benz & Frey, 2008).
4Frame of Reference
4.5Small firms in rural areas
4.6Rural areas in Sweden
4.7Småland region in Sweden
4.8Previous studies from a different perspective
4.9Importance of rural entrepreneurship
5.5Interviews and questions
6.1Case of FIAB AB
6.2Case of Lanstället
6.3Case of Hobby Fritid i Tenhult AB
7.2Challenges and opportunities
7.3Linking rural challenges, opportunities and general company,characteristics
9Discussion and further research
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Rural Entrepreneurship: Challenges and Opportunities